Horned Lizard in Borderlandia
Andrea Muñoz Martinez
Acrylic and gouache on canvas
20”h x 16”w
This painting is inspired by a photograph my father took of a horned lizard, also called “horned toads” at our home in Uvalde, TX. He said this about the picture he took: “I was raised in the country, so I was raised around wildlife. As time passed, we got these sophisticated phones with cameras. I would take pictures of things that I liked and send them to Monica (my sister) and send them to you. Because not many people get to see a horned toad. I was always in the middle of nowhere so I would take my phone with me and it had a camera. So, I always had a camera with me to take these pictures. I found that big one when I was weed eating. It jumped up on the steps and I picked him up and moved him behind the swimming pool in the brush. I didn’t want my dog, Chivo, to get it.”
Artist’s Statement for BORDERLESS - Solo Exhibition - Andrea Muñoz Martinez
In my paintings I render a place called Borderlandia, a reimagined landscape full of life and movement, not divided by borders. Through painting, photography, drawing, video, and performance I invite people to contemplate the beauty that exists in a land where people negotiate their place, where people thrive and struggle, and where people resist the idea of unjust borders.
My paintings are inspired by the vast landscape of Uvalde, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico. To render these borderlands I begin with a memory of this land. In this process I describe my memory of the borderland I grew up in. Uvalde County is a brush country blanketed with green and yellow prickly pear cactus and green and grey mesquite trees. I paint this thorny landscape with repetitive, rectangular marks of bright color in a grid pattern. My painting during this process is slow, mindful and healing.
Painting landscapes is a way for me to understand the place where I am from. I grew up fishing and hunting with my father who taught me how to look at the land. My mother filled our home with textiles that created a soothing environment which helped me thrive in a sometimes hostile town.
Today, the U.S.-Mexico border is constantly being presented as a place of danger and violence. But to me the borderlands are home. It’s a place of humanity, solidarity, and compassion. Paintings of Borderlandia are my valentine to the borderlands. They are my own addition, threads of color, to the fabrics woven by my mother, father, and those that came before them. Weaving history, emotion, and lived experiences; it is a way of preserving the chispas of joys birthed from these lands.
Borderlandia is an imagined and fascinating world. Here, animals are special because they traverse the landscape in fronteras. Animals including dogs, monarch butterflies, and hummingbirds are companions to border-crossers in Borderlandia and they remind us that migration is beautiful. Portraits of animals insert humor, comfort, and joy into difficult but urgent realities about the borderlands.
Many of the animals in these paintings were inspired by photographs that my Father, Joe Martinez, took while he was traveling through south Texas for work or when he was outside at home. My Dad was born in Uvalde. He started his career as a substation electrician in 1982, and retired after 36 years in 2018. For many years he drove sometimes 500 miles in a day to check on substations in the rural landscape on ranches and different properties in and near Uvalde County. During these visits, he encountered owls, goats, cattle, and other animals. My Dad began taking pictures of animals in 2012. He said every photo was a spur of the moment thing. He had to be quick and aware of his surroundings. He most often photographed these animals on his phone, and then texted them to me with a witty caption about his encounter.
This series started in October 2021, the last paintings were finished after May 24, 2022, when a horrific massacre took the lives of 19 children, 2 teachers, and injured 13 more and changed my hometown forever. Completing this series helped me find moments of relief in the midst of immeasurable grief.
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Get to Know the Austin Artist:
I am a Latina artist who paints abstract landscapes of the US-Mexico borderland, draws portraits, and makes interactive performance art. I was born and raised in Uvalde, Texas and graduated with a BFA from The University of Texas at Austin and an MFA at UC Davis. My work can be found in the public collection at the Center for the Study of the Southwest at Texas State University. I give public talks about art and art making to university students and public audiences.